The atrium, which stretches from Broadway to Columbus Avenue between 62nd and 63rd Street, opened in 1979, one of many legally mandated privately owned public spaces in New York's denser neighborhoods. Originally, it was to have provided daily performances and food service; in recent years, it has offered only a few tables out of the rain and a rock-climbing wall.
Lincoln Center will spend $15 million to renovate the space, and plans to reopen it in 2008 with an interactive information center, food service, restrooms, and wireless Internet access. The performance space will be used for Lincoln Center-produced performances as well as community events.
"Lincoln Center is well underway in revitalizing our campus, rendering the thousands of artistic events presented in and around our facilities each year more accessible and welcoming," Lincoln Center president Reynold Levy said. "We are delighted to be working with Advocates for Privately Owned Public Space, and, with the encouragement of the City of New York, partnering with our neighbors to modernize and animate this underused public space as a vital 21st-century portal for arts patrons, visitors, tourists, and students."
Seven architecture firms will compete to create a design for the space: Allied Works Architecture, Behnisch Architects, Imaginary Forces/Greg Lynn FORM, Klein Dytham architecture, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Morphosis, and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. The winner will be announced this summer.